£120,000 Clarence park gateway slammed as waste of public money

The Hatfield Road bridge entrance to Clarence Park

The Hatfield Road bridge entrance to Clarence Park - Credit: Archant

A proposal to spend £120,000 on a brand-new gateway into a St Albans park has been slammed as a waste of public money by a councillor and a local resident.

St Albans council is expected to agree to spend the money on the gateway into Clarence Park at its budget meeting next month after the city neighbourhoods committee recommended that the access in Hatfield Road should be completely replaced instead of just being repaired.

But Cllr Alun Davies and local resident Barry Sumpter have canvassed opinion on the proposed cost and have found that while most people they spoke to said that while the ramp needed replacing, they would prefer to see the money spent on tackling road problems and improving facilities.

Both men think that the way forward is to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money, as well as canvassing local businesses and funding bodies.

The city neighbourhoods committee felt that a complete replacement of the timber steps and and zig-zag ramp at the entrance would be much better value for money than repairing the gateway.

But Cllr Davies said: “Time and time again at the city neighbourhoods committee I have raised the issue of how to fund any replacement. It seems that other councillors are quite happy to just spend taxpayers money without looking into alternate funding.”

Feedback from those they had canvassed included suggestions that the money should be spent on improving facilities in other parts of the district including play areas, tackling parking, congestion and pothole problems or installing a shelter at the Clarence Road entrance which would be of particular benefit to dog walkers in bad weather.

City neighbourhoods committee chairman, Cllr Robert Donald, said this week that the work was urgent for health and safety reasons and had been thoroughly aired by being discussed three or four times in the last 12 to 15 months - some of the discussions before Cllr Davies had come on the council.

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He maintained Cllr Davies and Mr Sumpter were not ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ as most of the residents representatives sitting on the committee who welcomed the proposal.

He went on: “One resident has already said thank you for doing this.”

Cllr Donald pointed out that the entrance had to be closed last winter for health and safety reasons and added: “Local people shouldn’t be asked to put their hands in their pockets to pay for this.”

Funding for the scheme will come out of the committee’s revenue budget and not as a ‘special expense’ falling on city centre residents.